ONR has determined a revised area around the Barrow nuclear sites where the local authority, in this case Cumbria County Council, is required to have an emergency plan in place to protect the public in the unlikely event of a radiation emergency. ONR is required to make these decisions under the Radiation (Emergency Preparedness and Public Information) Regulations 2001 (REPPIR). The off-site emergency planning area has been revised from two overlapping circular 2 km areas centred on the Wet Dock Quay and Ramsden Dock Basin to a combined area largely based on physical and electoral ward boundaries, including part of the conurbation of Barrow, and extended (due to the single point of access being close to the nuclear site) to include the whole of Walney Island. It also includes watercourses in the Walney and Scarth Channels.
ONR is clear that the increase in the overall planning area does not reflect an increased risk to the public from the site, nor does it mean that current emergency planning arrangements do not offer appropriate protection to the public. The change in area is a result of ONR using its revised principles for determining more effective REPPIR off-site emergency planning areas with the intention that this will lead to additional improvements in public protection. George Sallit, ONR Deputy Chief Inspector said: “Although our assessment of the radiation hazards on the Barrow nuclear sites confirm that the overall risk has reduced compared to previous estimates, I believe that the enhanced REPPIR emergency planning is in the best interests of public safety, demonstrating our commitment to continuous improvement.” “ By following our revised principles ONR inspectors have not only assessed the operators’ detailed assessments of the radiation hazards but have also worked with Cumbria County Council and other agencies to ensure that practical considerations relevant to the Barrow-in-Furness area have been taken into account when defining the area requiring an off-site emergency plan.“ ONR has written to Cumbria County Council and the operators advising them of the decision. The council will revise their off-site emergency plan in consultation with the other emergency responders to ensure appropriate arrangements are in place throughout the new area. REPPIR requires the Council to revise their off-site emergency plan within six months of the determination (or longer period as ONR may agree in writing). As part of Cumbria County Council’s REPPIR off-site emergency planning requirements, BAE Systems Marine Ltd and MOD have arrangements in place to provide urgent countermeasures to people living closest to their sites if there is an accident. BAE Systems Marine Ltd and the MOD will work closely with Cumbria County Council and other responders to ensure that their arrangements continue to complement the local authority emergency plan. Full details of the determination can be found in the Project Assessment Report.